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(5 Min. Speech)Explain The Role Of The Family Court Of Australia In Dealing With Issues That Arise Within Families. Make Reference To A Case/S.

1008 words - 4 pages

The Family Court of Australia was established with the passing of the Family Law Act (FLA) 1975. The court is a Federal Court and is a superior court of record. It's judges have the same status as Federal or Supreme Court judges. There are no juries. Appeals lie to the Full Court of the Family Court comprising three judges, and in appropriate cases, five judges. Appeals thereafter lie to the High Court. The Family Court has the power to deal with issues involving divorce, children, property and spousal maintenance by way of s.51 of the Constitution and each case is considered on it's merits (as shown in the cases B v B and Smith v Smith)The 1976 Act removed the fourteen grounds for divorce that existed under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959 and replaced them with a single reason, being an ''irretrievable breakdown'' of the marriage. In granting a divorce, the Court must be satisfied that the parties are seperated, the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and where the parties have children, the arrangements which have been put in place for the children are appropriate. In regards to child maintenance, the Child Support Acts of 1988 and 1989 both confer original and appellate jurisdiction on the Family Court. The Court also has jurisdiction to make a parenting order concerning children, including residence orders, contact orders and specific issues orders. In making a parenting order, the Court considers what, in all circumstances, is in the best interests of the child (as shown in the 1988 case of M v M).This idea arose in the ratifying of the UN Treaty on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) in 1990. This provides that the best interests of the child must be of 'paramount consideration' in all actions concerning any child. The Family Law Reform Act 1995 (Cth) was drafted with the specific intention of incorporating CROC principles into domestic legislation. The 'best interests of the child' was clearly stated in the statute. With this reform, there was a move from parental rights and responsibilities. Rather than having a right to custody and access, parents now had responsibility for the care and welfare of their children. Regardless of where or with whom the child lives, both parents must maintain long-term responsibility for the child and continue to have control over decisions about daily care, unless the Court orders otherwise. Under the current regime, the Court only makes orders removing parental responsibility when it considers that it is not in the child's best interests that a parent continue to have responsibility for the child (for e.g. in cases of suspected family violence, such as Re David 1997).The Family Court does not deal with initial breaches of parenting orders, but it does refer these to the counsellor division of the Family Court so that the dispute can be dealt with. If there are continued breaches of an order the parent can be held in contempt and this could result in fines, restitution or imprisonment.While...

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